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The Week's Top Stories: Bond Yields, Bitcoin Bets, and GameStop Won't Stop

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.

BOND MARKET SPOOKS STOCKS U.S. markets ended the week mixed, with the Nasdaq putting in its worst, single session since October on Thursday. There’s a lot going on here: tech stocks have been pummeled as investors look to other overlooked trades that could benefit from vaccine progress and a broader economic recovery. But more importantly, a rise in interest rates is making some of the stocks that have been on a tear for much of the last year less attractive on a valuation basis. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note Thursday was up some 50 basis points since the beginning of the year to about 1.5 percent — not particularly high historically but a full percentage point higher than the lows it tested last summer.  The yield then dropped to 1.42 percent for the week. That bond rate is used as a benchmark for borrowing costs and affects everything from car loans to mortgage rates. The effect of rising interest rates on the stock market is a bit counterintuitive: they reflect the belief that the economic recovery is about to accelerate, which will lead to better corporate earnings but also come with worries about inflation. That’s why Fed chair Jerome Powell spent a chunk of his week reassuring lawmakers and economists that the central bank is not worried about rising prices. TESLA HIT ON BITCOIN BET

Tesla was among the hardest hit by the Nasdaq’s slide, dropping as much as 8 percent on Thursday before falling again by Friday’s close. Elon Musk confirmed that Tesla’s Model 3 production line at the Fremont, Calif. plant had to be temporarily shut down due to supply chain issues. But it also had to do with Tesla’s big bet on Bitcoin, which was at one point this week on the brink of entering a correction. The cryptocurrency has been particularly volatile in the last few days, plummeting from its high of $58,000 last weekend to about $46,000 by Friday afternoon. BTC was at one point below $45,000 before it came back. The skid began with comments from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who called Bitcoin an “extremely inefficient” way of conducting transactions, and also Musk himself, who tweeted that the price has gotten too high.

GAMESTOP DEJA VU Stop us if you’ve heard this before. Shares of GameStop rocketed higher midweek, closing up more than 100 percent on Wednesday. Volatility in the stock was so extreme that trading had to be halted twice. To the extent the surge was driven by any tangible event, GameStop announced its CFO was resigning — reportedly pushed out in the aftermath of last month’s short squeeze. But the dynamics at play were similar to what happened then when daytraders on Reddit pumped up the stock on no specific “news.” Still, the pop paled in comparison to the last one, when GME shares were up as much as 1,600 percent before crashing back down to Earth.  THIRD VACCINE IMMINENT The FDA is on the brink of approving Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine. That emergency use authorization could happen as soon as this weekend after the agency’s advisory panel delivers its recommendation (with Pfizer and Moderna, the approval came the day after the panel met.) If and when the J&J shot is given the go-ahead, it will take some time for it to make a dent in the vaccination rate. But by the end of March, J&J says it will be able to deliver 20 million doses and another 80 million by the end of June. This vaccine has been deemed safe and effective, based on the clinical trial data submitted to the government, and has two big advantages over the Pfizer and Moderna jabs: it requires a single dose, rather than two, and it can be stored for months in a regular refrigerator.  NEW FRONT IN STREAMING WARS

ViacomCBS unveiled details of its upcoming streaming service, Paramount+, which will be a rebranded and juiced-up version of its current CBS All Access platform. The media conglomerate is leaning heavily on nostalgia — Paramount+ will be home to a Frasier reboot, a Rugrats reboot, and a new Star Trek spinoff, among other blasts from the past. It will also be the exclusive home to some big-screen Paramount franchises, like Mission: Impossible 7 and A Quiet Place II, 45 days after they premiere. Analysts were mostly optimistic about ViacomCBS’ all-in bet on streaming — better late than never, was the general refrain — though shares fell 5 percent in an indication that investors are still waiting to see if Viacom can break through the streaming noise with a product that consumers will pay for. 

Source: The Week's Top Stories: Bond Yields, Bitcoin Bets, and GameStop Won't Stop

AP Top Stories 26 P

Here are the top stories for Friday, February 26th: Biden visits Texas after deep freeze ; Biden intel report releaseed on Khasoggi killing;" Senior vaccine buddies" hit DC streets; Wax celebs promote indoor dining.

Video Transcript

- This is AP News Minute.

President Joe Biden traveled to Houston, Texas, in his first trip as president to a major disaster area. Tens of thousands of residents there are still waiting to get reconnected to safe drinking water. Biden's first stop, a local emergency operations center for a briefing on the crisis.

The Biden administration has released a declassified intelligence report that finds Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely approved the killing of US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The release is seen as a rebuke to the Crown Prince, although he won't personally be sanctioned for the killing.

Black residents make up a little under half of Washington, D.C.'s population but nearly 3/4 of its COVID deaths. Now senior vaccine buddies are pounding the pavement in predominantly black neighborhoods, helping to get seniors signed up for COVID vaccinations.

Al Roker, Jimmy Fallon, even Audrey Hepburn, all wax figures joining indoor diners at Brooklyn's famous Peter Luger's Steakhouse. The restaurant has teamed up with Madame Tussaud's to promote the easing of coronavirus pandemic restrictions on indoor dining in New York City. Ned Barker for the Associated Press, with AP News Minute.

Source: AP Top Stories 26 P

Houston power couple's luxe island wedding leads week's top stories

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Houston power couple jets off to St. Croix for luxurious island wedding. St. Croix has dual significance for the couple as both the bride's birthplace and the place where the couple rekindled their romance. 

2. 8 Houston eateries land on Texas Monthly's best new restaurants list. Instead of a ranked list of best new restaurants, the magazine touted 30 of its favorite dishes that are available to-go. 

3. Houston's hottest restaurateur reveals plans for 2 exciting new concepts in The Heights. Ben Berg's next projects will be a romantic Italian restaurant and wood-fired steakhouse. 

4. H-E-B rolls out new restrictions on food and supplies after winter storm. The Texas grocer briefly imposed purchase limits on some items while shoppers restocked after the storm. 

5. Harris County politician powers push to switch Houston off ERCOT grid. Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia wants the county to explore the possibility of withdrawing from the statewide electric grid.  

Source: Houston power couple's luxe island wedding leads week's top stories

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